Venue: Beijing, China
Your Excellency President of Myanmar
Mr. U. Thein Sein ,
Your Excellency President of Lao PDR
Mr. Choummaly Sayasone,
Your Excellency Prime Minister of Cambodia
Mr. Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen;
Distinguished CEOs and business leaders ;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
A very good morning to you all.
It is indeed a great pleasure to be amongst you in this Special Session of the APEC CEO Summit. I highly appreciate Chinese Leadership for holding Dialogue with several non-APEC Asian countries on “Strengthening Connectivity Partnership” yesterday, followed by this Special Session of the APEC CEO Summit with the theme of ‘The Region beyond APEC: Opportunities for Growth and Cooperation’. The Dialogue and this CEO Summit clearly underscore China’s appreciable endeavour aimed at reaching towards its neighbors.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would say at the outset that in this era of increasing connectivity, this is inevitable that the APEC member countries, along with non-APEC countries like Bangladesh in this Asia Pacific region, need to look forward for raising living standards and education levels through sustainable economic growth. For that, we need to foster a sense of community and an appreciation of shared interests among nations in this region. The proposed “Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)” would create a free trade zone that would considerably expand commerce and economic growth in the region. Bangladesh is aspirant to get involved in this process. Bangladesh has already expressed its keen interest to become a member country of the APEC, and is hopeful that APEC would consider soon lifting the existing moratorium on including new members.
Bangladesh is at present poised towards becoming a middle-income country by 2021. A rapidly growing middle class in a country of 160 million population has made it a huge consumer market. We are managing over 6% annual GDP growth rate for several years. Bangladesh is indeed a cost competitive investment destination and offers the most liberal FDI regime. We have a huge hard working, young and affordable labour force. Bangladesh economy stands within first forty five economies in the world both in terms of size of GDP and foreign currency reserve. We are projecting higher growth targets in the coming years, and due to our strategic location near the emerging economies like China and India as well as near to the ASEAN markets, we are keen to be a part of any prospective regional and sub-regional economic and physical connectivity processes in order to get associated with the emerging demand and supply chain in the Asia-Pacific region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The economic integration among APEC member countries as well as the coming up of ASEAN economic community from 2015 is thus an encouraging proceeding for Bangladesh, to which we are banking upon for our own eventual integration. We are already pursuing greater physical and economic connectivity for our neighbours under the auspices of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), as well as through the ongoing process of establishing the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) and bilateral approaches. Bangladesh is proactively working in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). We look forward to further strengthening our cooperation with IORA member countries in general while working closely in the maritime sector with the countries in our region and beyond like India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, the UAE and Japan. We also intend to establish a Deep Sea Port in the Southeastern region as well as a third Sea Port in the Southern region in order to emerge as a major hub of maritime trade in this region. In this regard, we deeply appreciate President Xi Jinping’s initiatives for the revival of Silk Road Economic Belt and the “21st Century Maritime Silk route” in this part of the globe. We also have a long term plan of building extended road and rail connectivity with our neighboring countries. A new world-class international airport in central Bangladesh is planned in order to emerge as a major air transportation hub in Asia-Pacific region. We are hopeful that Bangladesh would emerge as a major transportation hub, containing an extensive rail, road, air and sea connectivity.
This is indeed important for the countries of the Asia-Pacific region to follow the suite of other established regional economic blocs around the globe. APEC’s trade facilitation efforts, especially in the form of “Trade Facilitation Action Plan”, is a commendable step in this regard. The APEC consensus about the benefits of expanding international exchange, especially in goods and services, on the grounds that increased foreign trade confers mutual economic gains, has been central to explaining Asia-Pacific growth. I am especially enthusiastic about the “APEC Business Travel Card as one of the concrete measures to facilitate business. The “APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC)”, with the aim of providing advice to the APEC Economic Leaders on ways to achieve the “Bogor Goals” and other specific business sector priorities, is indeed an effective body. However, this is important for the APEC members as well as non-APEC countries in this region, to formulate framework of cooperation for our mutual benefits. Admitting the fact that there exists difference in the level of development among the APEC and non-APEC countries in this region, we do believe that economic and trade cooperation of the APEC need to be eventually extended beyond the organization.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, APEC economies account for 44 per cent of world trade and 55 per cent of world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The theme of the ongoing 26th APEC Leader’s Summit in Beijing "Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership", identifying the three major topics of the meetings as to make advancing economic integration, promoting innovative economic development, reform and growth, and strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development, appears immensely encouraging in terms of the prospect of achieving a new momentum in the economic growth of the Asia Pacific region. We, the non-APEC members of Asia, are equally optimistic of this prospect and like to remain active partners in this journey of collective prosperity.
I would conclude by saying that, effective fundamental reform is essential for lifting sustained world economic growth. This will require strong political will. Bangladesh, by all its means and willingness, stands ready to participate with its friends in Asia-Pacific region and beyond in any effort to achieve progress in this regard, both bilaterally and multilaterally, through multiple and complementary efforts. We believe that attaining sustainable economic growth is of the benefit of the humanity, and the ultimate means of achieving a poverty and exclusion-free world.
With this perspective, we deeply value the progress of APEC over the years and the years ahead, and wish to remain engaged more with APEC in future days.
I thank you all.
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